Founded in the late 1990's in Detroit, Michigan, Mack Avenue Records' beginnings were conceived out of a genuine love for jazz and the artists that create it. Gretchen Valade, the label's founder, sat at the grand piano in her living room composing Nat King Cole and Peggy Lee–inspired vocal charts and wanted to find a way to get them recorded. In that moment Mack Avenue was born. The label's first few recordings spotlighted both young talent and storied jazz veterans, a mix which contributed to our artistic philosophy in the years that followed.
With new recordings by George Shearing, Gerald Wilson, OscarCastro-Neves, Terry Gibbs and a handful of newcomers, passion guided our early agenda and shortly a business infrastructure emerged to match it. Creatively we were driven by the idea that we could be a partner to highly-acclaimed established artists looking to further their careers and, at the same time, nurture the next generation of jazz's undiscovered greats. Soon, Mack Avenue's releases were being noticed globally for their attention to artistic merit as well as sonic and visual quality.
In 2006, we opened our Los Angeles office and started our publishing company. Two years later we acquired three contemporary imprints, expanding our boutique roster to include artists such as Jonathan Butler, Kirk Whalum, Rahsaan Patterson, Brian Bromberg, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, and the Kenny Rankin catalog, among others. These additions broadened the musical genres that we represent to include gospel, adult R&B, singer/songwriter and blues, stepping out from the jazz genre for the first time. Around that time critically acclaimed artists such as Kenny Garrett, Stanley Jordan, Christian McBride, Yellowjackets, Danilo Pérez, Gary Burton and Kevin Eubanks began to record with the label, strengthening our place among leading modern day jazz recording companies.
Mack Avenue's recordings have won or been nominated for multiple Grammy®, NAACP, A2IM Libera Awards and other media honors, including our most recent Grammy® nominees Stanley Clarkeand Alfredo Rodríquez (2015) and Cecile McLorin Salvant, Jimmy Greene, Kirk Whalum and Christian McBride (2016). Our artists have enjoyed top positions on numerous sales, radio and other industry charts, and much of that success has been driven by a combination of creative instinct, strategic risk taking and sound business practices. This was made possible because one very enthusiastic music fan in Detroit sat at her piano and decided she wanted to record what she was writing. She got those songs recorded – in style – and then watched as her creation blossomed, providing leadership and vision at critical points along the way.
As our creative endeavors and passionate commitment lead us into a variety of genres, our primary mission of recording and presenting music that inspires remains intact. Take a look around our site, visit us on social media and enjoy some great music in the process!
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